I may here remark that it was very amusing to see her run, if her mode of progression could properly be called running. For first she would make a bound; then, having alighted, she would run a few steps, and make another bound. Sometimes she would fancy she had reached the ground before she actually had, and her feet would go backwards and forwards, running upon nothing at all, like those of a chicken on its back. Then she would laugh like the very spirit of fun; only in her laugh there was something missing. What it was, I find myself unable to describe. I think it was a certain tone, depending upon the possibility of sorrow—morbidezza, perhaps. She never smiled.
After a long avoidance of the painful subject, the king and queen resolved to hold a council of three upon it; and so they sent for the princess. In she came, sliding and flitting and gliding from one piece of furniture to another, and put herself at last in an arm-chair, in a sitting posture. Whether she could be said to sit, seeing she received no support from the seat of the chair, I do not pretend to determine.
“My dear child,” said the king, “you must be aware by this time that you are not exactly like other people.”
“Oh, you dear funny papa! I have got a nose, and two eyes, and all the rest. So have you. So has mamma.”
“Now be serious, my dear, for once,” said the queen.
“No, thank you, mamma; I had rather not.”
“Would you not like to be able to walk like other people?” said the king.
“No indeed, I should think not. You only crawl. You are such slow coaches!”
“How do you feel, my child?” he resumed, after a pause of discomfiture.
“Quite well, thank you.”
“I mean, what do you feel like?”
“Like nothing at all, that I know of.”
“You must feel like something.”
“I feel like a princess with such a funny papa, and such a dear pet of a queen-mamma!”
“Now really!” began the queen; but the princess interrupted her.
“Oh, yes,” she added, “I remember. I have a curious feeling sometimes, as if I were the only person that had any sense in the whole world.”
She had been trying to behave herself with dignity; but now she burst into a violent fit of laughter, threw herself backwards over the chair, and went rolling about the floor in an ecstasy of enjoyment. The king picked her up easier than one does a down quilt, and replaced her in her former relation to the chair. The exact preposition expressing this relation I do not happen to know.
“Is there nothing you wish for?” resumed the king, who had learned by this time that it was useless to be angry with her.
“Oh, you dear papa!—yes,” answered she.
“What is it, my darling?”
“I have been longing for it—oh, such a time!—ever since last night.”